Five Non-traditional Ways Retailers Are Using SMS For Strong Results


One of the greatest values of SMS lies in its versatility. Though it’s commonly used as a marketing tool for retailers, and rightly so, it’s worthwhile for much more.

Here, Oisin Lunny, Openmarket’s Senior Market Development Manager shares 5 tips on how retailers can maximize the value of their SMS solutions both in the present and the future – plus, we speak to him in person about the advantages of SMS in mobile marketing.

The Value of SMS for Retailers

SMS is invaluable for its reach and convenience. Now that more than 80 percent of American adults actively participate in text messaging, SMS is by far the most common mobile phone activity in the U.S.

Text messages have a 98 percent open rate and the majority are consumed in less than three minutes. This makes texting the most effective and far-reaching mode of communication by far.

The reason open rates are so high is that SMS is convenient and easy. Although email and phone calls have their place, SMS is considerably simpler and more personal. As a result, consumers are more likely to open a message and follow through with the requested action.

From a retailer’s perspective, the reach and convenience of SMS make it the perfect marketing tool. Businesses use it to send out coupons, promote flash sales, and drive foot traffic.

And because mobile devices are nearly always with the user, the chances of reaching a customer while he or she is “on the go” is much higher than with email or direct mail.

Five Creative Ways Retailers Can Use SMS

It’s difficult to overstate the value of SMS in modern marketing. Very few retailers look beyond its traditional uses, however.

While there’s certainly value in launching marketing campaigns — and we believe that every retailer should have SMS marketing strategies in place — there’s much more to SMS. The potential extends far beyond sending out coupon codes.

It’s imperative for retailers to adopt a forward-thinking mentality and commit to being on the cutting edge of text messaging today. As more and more businesses adopt SMS strategies, you’ll need to become more creative to enjoy a competitive advantage.

Below are a few possibilities:

1 ) Product Recalls

When it comes to product recalls, you don’t have much room to play around. You have a legal obligation to send our recall information in a timely and appropriate manner.

Email and direct mail will probably always play a role in recalls, but you shouldn’t overlook the value of SMS. Boasting a 98 percent open rate, SMS is guaranteed to reach more of your customers when you need to inform them. This approach allows you to assume with confidence that the majority of your customers will see the information.

SMS should absolutely be employed in a food recall situation when time is of the essence. Since messages are usually opened within a matter of minutes (as opposed to hours with email and days with direct mail), a swift SMS blast can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major legal battle.

2 ) Internal Employee Communication

Many businesses haven’t recognized that SMS is an extremely valuable tool for enhancing internal employee communication. Especially if you have workers spread out across various locations, distribution centers, and offices, SMS is the ideal way to send out time-sensitive information.

Almost every employee has his or her phone at hand and everyone’s apt to check the SMS inbox much more frequently than email inboxes. SMS is particularly powerful for addressing scheduling changes.

You can use it to find last-minute replacements or notify managers of issues and concerns that arise throughout the workday.

3 ) Stock and Inventory Updates

When you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer, it’s imperative that you stay up to date on evolving trends in order to beat your competition.

One way to do this is by offering stock updates. For example, if a customer comes into the store looking for a specific item that’s no longer in stock, you can gather the person’s information and send out an update as soon as the item is back in stock.

This avoids forcing a potential customer to return to the store over and over again, which will only breed frustration and discontent.

 4 ) Shipping Notifications

Online shoppers have become conditioned to receiving shipping notifications from e-commerce stores. Brick-and-mortar businesses need to recognize this and provide their own updates.

If you have an option for customers to ship items directly to a store location, you should have a plan in place for updating them along the way. By sending out a message when the item ships and when it arrives, you can enhance communication and keep customers informed.

This has the added benefit of decongesting busy customer service phone lines, because your customers no longer have to call to check on an order’s status.

5 ) Customer Feedback

SMS isn’t just a tool for pushing information. You can also use it to elicit information from your customers. Many retailers find text messages extremely effective for gathering feedback.

For example, you could send out a message that reads, “Thanks for shopping with us. Please respond with YES to answer two quick questions about your in-store experience.”

Messages like these are easy and useful. The response rate may be low, but any feedback is worthwhile. Over time, you can experiment with different strategies that may encourage more engagement.